EOIN MORGAN showed the fringe players how it should be done with another display of brutal hitting.
Captain Morgan scored 66 from just 33 balls as England stormed to a brilliant run chase in the second Twenty20 match against Pakistan at Old Trafford.
It was just the high-scoring run-fest – with the bonus of an England victory by five wickets – the BBC dreamed about when screening their first live cricket for 21 years.
Morgan was helped in a match-winning third-wicket stand of 112 in ten overs with fellow left-hander Dawid Malan.
Malan would not be in England’s first-choice T20 team but normally scores runs when given the chance and has an international career average above 50 with a strike-rate in excess of 150.
Morgan said before the series that, with the likes of Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes not involved, it was the chance for non-established players to stake their claims for next year’s World Cup.
Most of the Test players will be back when the squad is announced on Monday for the three Aussie T20s starting on Friday.
Tom Banton seized an opportunity with 71 in the washed-out match on Friday and he produced an outrageous reverse sweep for six before departing for 20.
Jonny Bairstow batted aggressively for 44 but, when the opening duo were dismissed in successive balls by leg-spinner Shadab Khan, England were tottering.
Morgan survived the narrowest of lbw shouts to his second delivery but was soon mixing power and invention and continuing his sublime recent form.
He hit a world record 17 sixes in a World Cup match against Afghanistan on this ground last summer and cleared the rope four times today.
Morgan said: “I’m definitely hitting the ball as well as ever and the numbers back that up.
“In the last two years of international cricket – and also in domestic cricket – I’ve produced my best figures.
“If I can combine that with experience, it will go a long way.
“I’m not doing anything different but some experience and confidence has helped. And I’m more comfortable with my role.
“Before I became captain, I didn’t feel comfortable jumping up and down the order but I feel more at ease now it’s my decision where I bat.
“It’s great to see players coming in and scoring runs. Tom Banton has batted like he does in a Somerset shirt, which is awesome, and Dawid is continuing to score runs.”
Pakistan’s captain and classiest batsman Babar Azam scored 56 and Mohammad Hafeez – nicknamed the Professor – gave England plenty to think about with 69 from 36 balls.
When Pakistan reached 195-4, it looked a tough target for England.
But England had chased 223 in their most recent T20 match in South Africa in February, so perhaps nobody should have been surprised at their cruise to victory. With Morgan at the helm, they believe anything is possible.